As I think about the coming day when I will spread my husband's ashes upon the graves of his beloved horses, I remember when Tom died and want to share with you a poem I wrote at the time about burying him.
It was years ago I wrote this poem. We live on a different farm now and Gary's ashes will join horses that joined us later in life than Tom. However, I have no doubt that Gary was welcomed "home" and I like to think he's mowing hay or plowing with the horses he loved right now.
|Gary waving from the hay mower with Tim and Tom. The dogs are Sherman & Spanky|
Our Belgian draft horses, Tim and Tom, spent their whole lives together. Born on the same farm and matched up as a team, they ate, slept, worked and played together.
When Tom died at age 29, Tim was present as our vet administered the euthanasia drugs.
He was present as we buried him
And as we mourned, so did Tim.
Tim stood guard at Tom's grave for weeks sending heart breaking whinnies into the skies. Tim was never the same and we had no doubt he spent the rest of his own life missing his partner.
Before we covered him with the sheets,
we pillowed his head on fresh cut cedar boughs.
And carefully arranged his legs
that ran like fire across these fields.
A thick covering of cedar boughs,
their feathery softness more for us than him.
Stepping out, we lean hard against the shovels,
our breath coming in frosted clouds,
then gather ourselves and continue with picks and shovels
down through the ice and snow
through thick oak and thin persimmon roots.
Before we shovel him out of sight, we talk to him.
We invent our own mythology, his and ours.
We tell him when it's our turn
to enter the darkness, unlike that fierce dog
who guards the gates of Hell,
He'll be the welcoming one
at the dim edge of the other side.
When we are still stunned and smelling of earth
he'll come and lead us the way he did
when we took our long hayrides
and he turned us out of the tangled woods
into the wide bright fields